Letter from Christian B. Anfinsen [re: value of the Human Genome Project]
Anfinsen often referred to himself as "a professional petition and letter signer." In this yet-to-be-addressed draft
letter, Anfinsen questioned the value of continued funding for the Human Genome Project, arguing that the project seemed far
too expensive and possessed little scientific merit.
Item is a photocopy.
Number of Image Pages:
1 (48,850 Bytes)
1990-03-27 (March 27, 1990)
Anfinsen, Christian B.
Reproduced with permission of Libby Anfinsen.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Human Genome Project
Humanitarian and Political Activism, 1967-1994
The Human Genome Project: Mediocre Science, Terrible Science Policy [ca. 1990]
I would like to join a rather large number of my colleagues in the biosciences in questioning the real value of the human
genome project, the extremely expensive proposal that is now beginning to emerge from the National Institutes of Health.
The program, even in its early stages, would require more than $200 million, and I gather that the estimate for a more-or-less
complete job would be closer to
$3 billion. There are a number of questions of a scientific nature that make the project of questionable interest. It is
well-known that about 95% of the genetic material in the human genome is basically "filler" and a total sequencing
of the genome would involve a great deal of wasted time and effort. I do believe that the approach favored by individuals
such as Dr. Victor McKusick at Johns Hopkins, aimed at locating and sequencing specific portions of the genome related to
human disease, would make a much more sensible beginning.